Bordered by Belarus, Russia,

Hungary, Romania, Moldova,

Slovakia and Poland, Ukraine

is a European unitary republic.

Religion plays a strong influential

role in shaping Ukrainian music,

literature and architecture.

Let’s learn more about Ukraine's 

history, culture, people, food and

more with these interesting facts ..

Wonders of the World

 Ukraine has seven Unesco World Heritage sites, including the 11th century Saint-Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, the ancient city of Chersonesus and the primeval beech forests of the Carpathians. One of its sites is a Struve Geodetic Arc – one of 34 commemorative plaques or obelisks that mark the first accurate measurement of a meridian through ten countries, linking Hammerfest in Norway through to the Black Sea in Ukraine. Ukraine has five separate markers. Beyond its World Heritage sites it has a wealth of majestic Orthodox cathedrals, including St Michael's in Kyiv


Why the "definite article" is not correct

The English-speaking world commonly referred to the country as The Ukraine. That is, until independence in 1991 when the West gradually dropped the definite article. In 1993 the Ukranian government requested that the country be called just Ukraine. US ambassador William Taylor, who knew that addition of the “the” was considered insulting by some Ukrainians, said it implied a disregard for the country’s sovereignty.


Music & Composers

● George Gershwin’s Summertime was inspired by an old Ukrainian lullaby.   https://youtu.be/ixdJLXDT_QM


● "Carol of the Bells" is a popular Christmas carol composed by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914 with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky. The song is based on a Ukrainian folk chant called "Shchedryk, (Щедрик)". Whilst Wilhousky's lyrics are copyrighted, the original musical composition is not. It has been arranged many times for different genres, styles of singing and settings and has been covered by artists and groups of many genres: classicalmetaljazzcountry musicrock, and pop. The piece has also been featured in films, television shows, and parodies.

● "O sole mio" was written in Odessa, Ukraine.   In 1898 Eduardo Di Capua with his father, violinist of orchestra, was in Odessa (at that time Russian Empire, now Ukraine) when the poet Giovanni Capurro asked him to compose the music for his verses 'O sole mio. So, being in Odessa and looking at the Black Sea, Eduardo Di Capua composed his most famous song.  Later 'O sole mio was presented in Naples, in musical contest but without success. This neapolitan song became famous only after the death of its authors


● Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  (Born May 7, 1840, Vyatka Russia, died November 6,  1893, Saint Petersburg, Russia)  

Of an old Ukrainian family Chaika.  The composer's Great-grandfather Theodore Opanasovych Chaika, was born near Kremenchug, a Kozak captain he fought in the Battle of Poltava and died of wounds. His son Peter (grandfather of the composer) was born in Poltava and studied at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy and took the name of Tchaikovsky. Having served as a regimental doctor in the Russo-Turkish war he became Mayor in Slobodsky and Glazov in the Vyatka province, and in 1785 was assigned to the nobility of the Kazan province.  The composer's father, Ilya Petrovich held various positions in the Department of Mining and Salt Affairs, conducted geological studies in the Novgorod province and taught in the Hirnych corpus. The composer's mother, Alexandra was the granddaughter of French sculptor Michel Victor Acier.  The Ukrainian atmosphere in the family Tchaikovsky survived, for the 24-year-old future composer almost every year for several months lived in Ukraine, where he composed more than 30 works, among them, the operas Vakula (Slippers) and Mazeppa, a romantic-song "Cherry Orchard around the home" “Садок вишневий коло хати”, the duet "In the garden near the ford"  “На вгороді коло броду”  using words by Taras Shevchenko.  In a severe time when the Russian empire was aggressively opposing the use of  Ukrainian language he finished the production of "Taras Bulba" by M. Lysenko, also in his own works he utilised many Ukrainian folk songs.  The Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka, was a relative of the Tchaikovsky family. Hrebinka was the author of the song "Datk Eyes" , "Очі чорнії".



● Ukrainian language took the second place on melodic criteria after Italian and it was ranked as the third most beautiful language in the world on such criteria as phonetics, vocabulary, phraseology and sentence structure after French and Persian at a linguistic contest held in Paris in 1934

● Of the 7,000 identified languages in the world, Ukrainbe is 26th most common. Ukraine is also the second most popular Slavic language (after Russian) 

● The closest lexicological languages to Ukrainian are Belarusan(84%) and Polish (70%)

 Ukraine has the 4th highest literacy rate in the world, 99.4% of Ukrainians at the age of 15 and over can read and write and nearly 70% of adult Ukrainians have secondary or higher education.

● The most common words in Ukrainian language, noun - hand (рука), verb - to be (бути) , adjective - big (великий), pronoun - he, (він). Тhe least used words  mutation (мутація), small wooden (or metallic) bowl  (баклажка), announcer (радист),  squirrel (білочка).

● The most common letter in Ukrainian literature is the letter P (also the largest number of words begin with the letter P).   F is the least used letter in literature and most words that begin with the letter F are borrowed from other languages. 

● The first printed grammar book published by a Ukrainian author, was entitled  "Study of Reading and Comprehension of  Slavic Script"  «Наука до читання й розуміння слов’янського письма» . It was published in Vilna (now Vilnius) in 1596 through the efforts of Lawrence Zizaniya. The book also contained a dictionary containing 1061 words.

 The first language primer published in Ukraine was "Bukvar (Alphabet)" - "Буквар (Азбука)" , published in 1574 in Lviv by pioneer Ivan Fedorov. The book consisted of the alphabet, syllables, samples of  declination  and short readings. Only one copy of the book has survived  (found in Rome in 1927) and now located in the library  at Harvard University (USA). The  edition was verified in Kyiv in 1964 and again in 1974. 


Ancient and Modern History 

● Modern day Ukraine is home to several archaeological sites that were previously Neanderthal settlements. The settlements feature a mammoth bone dwelling and are viewed as a possible location for the domestication of horses. The Molodova sites date back to 43,000–45,000 BC.

● The oldest map known to scientists is a map of an ancient  settlement of homo sapiens living in what is modern day Ukraine.  It was found in the village of Mezhyrich, Ostrozky region, Rivne oblast. The map is 14.5 - 15,000 years old and is engraved on a mammoth tusk. 

● Ukrainian civilizations dates back to 4800 B.C. The country is located in an area where Trypillian and Scythian civilizations thrived.

● The most historic transportation routes  from the Vikings to the Greeks, a system of river routes and trails around 3,0000km in length which connected the most northern lands of ancient Rus to the southern lands  from Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Throughout ancient history Ukraine-Rus acted as a  land bridge between Ancient Europe (including the Roman and Byzantine periods) and the Far East, called the Eurasian Steppe Route  (part of the Silk Road system of ancient times).

● Ukraine was home to one of the world’s first ever constitutions, in the form of the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk, written by a Ukrainian Cossack in May 5, 1710. It established a democratic standard for the separation of powers in government between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches, an idea perhaps made more famous by Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, which was published in 1748.  Compare USA accepted constiution in 1787, France and Poland 1791.

● Thousands of Jews were offered protection by Ukrainian religious leaders during the World War II. One of the leaders, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was honored in 2013 by the Anti-Defamation League for his humanitarian role. The Jews found refuge in monasteries and Ukrainian homes.

●Russia and Austria showed very little interest in Ukraine in the 19th century. The country was predominantly rural. The situation changed as Ukrainian modernization and urbanization expanded.

● Katherine the Great and some of her successors advocated increasing German immigration into Ukraine following the Russo-Turkish War in the late 1700s. The primary objective was to dilute the country’s demographic, which was characterized by a dominant Turk population.

● Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt met at the Yalta Conference in 1945, which was hosted by Ukraine. The meeting was aimed at charting the way forward in relation to the organization of post-war Europe. The venue, Livadia Palace is now a museum.

● In 1986, Ukraine witnessed the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster. The tragedy occurred at the Chornobyl plant located in the northern part of the country. The area has since been declared an exclusion zone. The disaster and declaration led to the emergence of several ghost towns. The area attracts multitudes of tourists despite the high levels of radiation.

●  Kyiv boasts "Hero City" status, which was conferred by the Soviet Union in honor of its fierce resistance to the Nazis in 1941. The Germans surrounded the city in what became known as the Battle of Kyiv.

●  Ukraine shares ties with Western Europe that go back 1,000 years. Anna, the daughter of Grand Prince Yaroslav helped pave the way for strengthening of relationships when she became the Queen Consort of France in 1051. She played a huge role in exposing French people to Eastern culture.

● Four of the world's twelve Lavra are located  in Ukraine. Three Orthodox and  one Greek Catholic. The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Kyiv (existing since 1051), Pochayiv Lavra in Pochayiv, Ternopil region (since 1833), Holy Dormition Assumption Monastery, Svyatohirsk, Donetsk region (achieved status of Lavra in 2004) and Holy Assumption Univska Lavra Studite Ordinance (Greek Catholic) in Univ, Lviv Oblast (since 1898).  Other Lavra are found in Greece (2), Russia (2), Georgia (1), Poland (1), Romania (1), Palestine (1).  The meaning of the word Lavra: Greek Orthodox Church: láura (a monastery consisting formerly of a group of cells or huts for monks who met for meals and worship).   Medieval Greek laúra (Greek: lane, passage).



● Ukraine is Europe's largest county with an area of  603,628 square kilometres, stretching from Russia in the east to Poland in the west, and sandwiched between the Black Sea in the south and fellow former Soviet state Belarus in the north. France is a respectable second at 551,695 square kilometres. (Russia has not been included as it has an ambiguous relationshup with the remainder of Europe)

The Geographic Centre of Europe is in Rakhiv, Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia) Ukraine.  In 1887, geographers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire set up a historical marker and a large stone in what is today a province of Ukraine which is believed to mark the geographic centre of Europe. Rakhiv in Transcarpathia according to the geographers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire is the geographic centre although there are various methods to calculate the geographic centre and there exist several other places in Euope who also lay claim to this geographical fact. More reading here,   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_midpoint_of_Europe ,   https://www.youtube.com/embed/NFmCeGyIM8k

● Ukraine has 25% of the worlds black soil, "чорнозем" (chornozem). It is the largest concentration of black soil on the planet in one country.   Black soil  (or earth) is a black-coloured soil containing a high percentage of humus (7% to 15%), and high percentages of phosphoric acidsphosphorus and ammonia.  Black soil is very fertile and produces a high agricultural yield.  A little known ecocide fact, during WW2 the German's trаnsported trainloads of  fertile black soil  from North and Eastern Ukraine back to Germany.  As a consequence the regions suffered irreparable damage to  fauna due to reduced soil fertility and the destructoin of the humus layer. https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%95%D0%BA%D0%BE%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B4

● One of Europe's largest deserts is in Ukraine.  The Oleshky Desert consists of endless dunes (called drifts) to a height of approximately 5 metres and with sparse vegetation.  Before the  end of the 18th century, the territory belonged to the nomad Nogai Hordes, particularly the Djambuilut Horde. No detailed historical information about the region has survived.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleshky_Sands)



● Ukrainian romanticism started developing in the 1830s. Romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko played a central role in this regard. He is widely regarded as the father of national revival.   There are 1384 monuments around the world erected to the famous Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko.

● The National University of Ostroh Academy is the successor of Ostroh Slavic, Greek and Latin Academy, the first higher educational establishment of the Eastern Slavs. It was founded in 1576 by Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn of Ostroh.   http://www.oa.edu.ua/en/information/en_history

● The oldest educational institution in Eastern Europe is considered the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy .  The predecessor of NaUKMA is one of the oldest academic and theological schools among Orthodox Christian East European countries. The Academy was first opened in 1615 as the school of the Kyiv bratstvo ("brotherhood").  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_University_of_Kyiv-Mohyla_Academy

● Unlike many cultures around the world, Ukrainians wear wedding rings on the right hand not the left.

● According to Ukrainian folk tales, Kyiv boasts up to three official witch gathering places. They share the name Lysa Hora (Bold Mountain).

● Weaving with handmade looms is still used in some parts of the country, including Krupove, located in Rivne Oblast.

● Ivana Kupala Day is one of Ukraine’s most fun traditional celebrations it is commemorated on June the 23rd. Boys and girls join hands in pairs and jump over a fire in a purification ritual. Locals believe that when a couple skip the fire without losing grip of each other, their love is destined to last a lifetime.

● Vyshyvanka is the Ukrainian national costume. It is decorated with ornamental hand woven embroidery featuring floral detail. Both women and men wear vyshyvanka  and its popularity has resurgeed in recent times. People wear their vyshyvanka when they socialise, go to church and weddings. 

● Kyiv is widely regarded as the country’s spiritual capital. Pilgrims regularly travel long distances to visit the Sofia Kyivska church and St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.

● The popular Easter egg tradition originated in Ukraine. Originally, the eggs were patterned using wax and dye. The wax was eventually removed leaving an impressive pattern with dashing colors.

● The world’s longest musical instrument originates from Ukraine. The pipe piece is aptly named Trembita.


Food and Cuisine

● Borshch and varenyky are some of the most popular traditional Ukrainian dishes.

●Locals also enjoy drinking компот (compote)  which is a non-alcoholic stewed fruit beverage. It is prepared by cooking different types of fruits, such as gooseberries, rhubarb, strawberries, apples and sour berries among others. The drink is often flavored using spices, particularly in winter months when it is served hot.

● Lviv is home to the highest number of cafes per capita in the world. It boasts up to 1,500 establishments.

● Ukrainian favorite drink is horilka, which is a local variant of the famed vodka. Locals often flavor this national drink with chilli pepper to give it a bit more punch.

● The McDonald’s next to the main train station in Kyiv, the country’s capital, is claimed to be the third busiest in the world.


Engineering Achievements & Inventions 

● The Antonov An-225 Mriya  (Мрія ~dream or inspiration),  is a strategic airlift  cargo aircraft that was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (710 short tons). It also has the largest wingspan (88.4 metres) of any aircraft in operational service. 

● The first Gas Lamp  was invented by Lviv apothecaries Ignatij Lukasevych and Yan Zeher in 1853. Also they invented a method to manufature gas by oil distillation and purification.

● Sergij Korolev (also Korolov) from Zhytomyr  is considered by many as the father of practical astronautics.  In 1957  Korolev launched the first artificial satellite into orbit.

● Designer of the first practical Helicopter is Igor Sikorsky from Kyiv. Sikorsky moved to USA after the Russian revolution. He created the legendary  "Sikorsky Aeroengineering Corporation".  His first helicopter VS -300 flew in 1939.  Today Sikorsky helicopters are used in the USA army.    (note:  Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches from the late fifteenth century were the predecessor to the modern day flying machine. As with many of da Vinci’s ideas, the "aerial screw" was never actually built and tested.  Sikorsky was the first engineer who brought this invention to life. 

● When people speak about the origins of the X-Ray, one man’s name usually comes to mind – German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen. Roentgen was the winner of the very first Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the x-ray and has a periodic element named after him (Roentgenium – 111). What most are unaware of, however, is the contribution of Ukrainian physicist Ivan Puluj in the foundational discovery. In fact, it could be argued that Puluj himself was the original inventor of the groundbreaking medical technology.

● The Electrical tram. In the beginning of 1870 Fedir Pirotsky from Poltava invented and developed the world's first railway electrification system and the electric tram. In 1875 he experimented with electrically powered railway cars on the Sestroretsk railway. The electricity was transferred over a distance of approximately one kilometre; both rails were isolated from the ground, one rail served as a direct conductor and one as a return conductor. In 1880 he modified a city two-decker horse tram to be powered by electricity instead of horses and on 3 September 1880 this unusual form of public transport started to serve residents of Saint Petersburg.  A year after, Siemens in Berlin created the first tram  following the design concepts of  the Ukrainian project (because the Russian empire was not interested in it.)

● Petro Prokopovich (1775-1850) was the founder of commercial beekeeeping.  He invented the first frame bee hive in 1814. He also invented a queen bee excluder between brood and honey chambers. Ukraine in recent years, keeps a place in the top three world leaders in the production of honey. Ahead of European countries in honey production several times over,  Ukraine is also the first in the world in production of honey per capita (1.5 kg). Ukraine produces  about 75,000 metric tons of honey per annum.


“World history has never been just to certain individuals or certain nations. Small nations and their achievements are often neglected while the accomplishments of large nations are at times exaggerated.”   – Slavko Bokshan, Serbian scientist that worked with both Roentgen and Puluj



● Smart Gloves Turn Sign Language Gestures Into Vocalized Speech  (2012)  A team of Ukrainian of students  invented a smart glove that translates sign language into vocalized speech via a smartphone. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/singularity/2012/09/20/smart-gloves-turn-sign-language-gestures-into-vocalized-speech/#57c01db84820)

● Automatic NonInvasive Express Screen Analyser  (bloodless blood testing)  Anatolii Malykhin was researching and trying to define the correlations between the biochemical indices of human body and parameters of blood formula, since 1992.  Moving to the next phase of development Malykhin developed the noninvasive analyser, it carries 3 Ukrainian patents and  recommendations "Noninvasive determination of blood, metabolic and hemodynamic parameters of human body." After 2006, development of the new technology commenced - clinical trials have been carried  from 2007 till 2012. A new instrument has been developed with new software, and it was named and developed : Automatic Noninvasive Express Screening Analyzer ANESA.   http://eurokiss.ua/about-device-anesa/history-development

● Ukrainian scientists from the National Institute of Aerospace  "Aviauniversiteta" have invented a unique "Liquid Jet" Scalpel, which will allow operations in the liver, stomach and  removal of malignant tumors with  virtually no damage the vascular system.  The "liquid jet"  scalpel has been successfully tested on animals.  After certification, the device will be launched into production. Director of the Center of Surgery, Professor Vladimir Skiba says scalpel is better than western counterparts — it is more reliable, economical and reusable 

● Ukraine is the 4th country with the largest number of IT specialists in the world. The IT working force in Ukraine is around 90 000.

● According to Bloomberg’s 2015 list of Top 50 Most Innovative Countries, Ukraine significantly improved its position in the overall ranking and now holds the 33rd place.

● Since 2007 Ukraine is included in Gartner’s TOP 30 outsourcing locations list and its position is growing from year to year.

● Depositphotos, Petcube, Grammarly, Redwerk and many other IT companies started and are located in Ukraine.

● There are over 1000 IT service companies and over 100 R&D centers throughout Ukraine.


Interesting & Unique

● The deepest subway (metro) station in the world built in 1960 is located in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv! It is Arsenal’na metro station (red line) and its depth is 105 meters!

● The shortest main street of any capital city, but at the same time one of the widest and the most spectacular is Khreshchatyk Street in the Ukrainian capital  Kyiv. Its total length is 1,225 meters.

● The average life expectancy is around 71.48 years.

● Ukraine is among the seven leading manufacturers of vegetable oil, potato's, sugar and pork.

● The heaviest silver coin in the world is a Ukrainian anniversary coin "10 years of hryvnia revival". Its weight is 1000 grams. It was issued in Ukraine in 2006.

● You could see a famous shoe'd flea in Ukraine at the Kyiv Museum of Miniatures. Its author is a well-known Ukrainian master of miniatures, Mykola Syadrysty.

● Pablo Picasso was delighted with the works of the Ukrainian artist Catherine Bilokur (1900-1961). When he saw her at the exhibition in 1954, he said, her works were brilliant and compared her with the famous painter Seraphine Louis.

● The world-famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov said about Ukrainian capital and one of the oldest cities in Europe: “There is no more beautiful city in the world than Kyiv".    House № 13 on the legendary Andriyivsky Descent - the street where the great writer lived with his family and where he ’lodged’ the heroes of his immortal novel "The White Guard' ,  hosts the unique exposition of the Literary and Memorial Bulgakov Museum. Thanks to this exposition, it remains the most impressive and frequently visited museum in Ukraine's capital for more than two decades.